designed for the way women work.
Fall is a great time to plant and divide perennials and shrubs. This is because, as in Spring, temperatures are cooler and there is usually plenty of rain. If you are in the market for new plants in fall you can usually find sales at garden centers when they are trying to make room for holiday trees and greens. Also, blooming plants will get a head start by being planted the previous fall. Even if the ground is frozen for much of the time between planting and blooming, roots begin to grow in early spring before it’s optimal to start working the soil. Remember in early spring the ground is usually wet as it thaws, and the best time to plant is after the soil dries out.
But the question so many people ask is: how late can I plant? The answer is you can plant as late into the season as you are able. That is, as long as you are able to get a spade into the ground you can plant or divide. Where I live in New England, Zone 5b/6a, our ground usually doesn’t freeze until December or early January. Even if you have had several nights with frost, the soil will not freeze hard until you’ve had continuous days and nights where temperatures stay below 32°F. And if you have had an early season snowfall, when the snow melts the ground should still be workable. Get those bulbs planted!
Here are some tips if you are planting in late fall:
-After planting, water generously. Even if you have already shut off your outdoor water valves, turn them back on for a generous watering of any new plants. Keep watering until the ground freezes to keep your plants from drying out over the winter. Once the ground is frozen you don’t need to be concerned with watering them again, except perhaps during a January thaw.
-After the ground is frozen lay some lightweight evergreen boughs over new perennials or at the base of any shrubs. Shredded bark mulch serves the same purpose. This is to protect your new plants from thawing in the winter sun, and then freezing again, which can cause them to heave out of the ground. More established plants are less susceptible to this, but young plants need protection from thawing and freezing.
-Wait to fertilize until strong new growth appears in Spring. At that time a light dressing of a balanced fertilizer is beneficial.
– If you have planted evergreens that deer like, be sure to protect them because winter is prime deer foraging time. Either put a deer fence around your new plants, a burlap wrapping, or spray them with an organic fertilizer. Granular deer repellants are effective and easy to apply for just one or two plants. For large shrubs and trees you might want to contact a local service that will come to your house and spray two or three times a year.
-When tending to plants in cooler weather, wear a pair of Womanswork lined gloves to keep your hands warm!